Guest Column

How Not-for-Profits Can Beat #GivingTuesday Fatigue

Giving Tuesday this year is December 1st, 2015

A not-for-profit graphic designer’s take on how to get the most out of the biggest fundraising day in philanthropy.

Giving Tuesday was the hot topic of conversation last week among The Association of Fundraising Professionals of New Jersey (AFP-NJ) during their annual philanthropy conference. The discussion among fundraising professionals continually came back to a growing concern that “Giving Tuesday Fatigue” may be setting in with donors as hundreds of not-for-profits throughout the United States are about to compete for donors' attention and dollars on the same day.

As not-for-profit graphic designers who work closely with organizations to communicate their fundraising messages, we are always thinking of new innovative solutions to help our clients break new fundraising records. Below we provide an overview of Giving Tuesday and how your not-for-profit can participate in this annual day of giving without burning out your donors and staff.

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What is Giving Tuesday?

Giving Tuesday, the Tuesday after Thanksgiving, is a day to celebrate philanthropy. It was created by the 92nd Street Y and the United Nations Foundation in direct response to the tremendous popularity of Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales.

Surely philanthropy should have its own celebrated day. If retail shopping and online shopping have dedicated days in American calendars, so should giving back!

That’s how the online awareness campaign Giving Tuesday and the hashtag #GivingTuesday were born.

The annual Giving Tuesday event has been growing steadily in popularity since its inception in 2012. Last year, $45.7M in donations was tracked on Giving Tuesday by the top five donation processors, a 63 percent jump over 2013. Donations are expected to increase this year as awareness of Giving Tuesday continues to grow and more not-for-profits leverage the day and messaging behind it.*

Why are Fundraising Professionals Concerned about “Giving Tuesday Fatigue”?

#GivingTuesday can tout key benefits for not-for-profits such as exposure, celebration, awareness and more, however, there are also downsides that organizations are experiencing:

  • Many not-for-profits are asking donors to give on the same day: Imagine a particularly charitable family receiving 15-20 “ask” emails in one day from different organizations.
  • Giving Tuesday is just days after Thanksgiving and in the busiest part of a fundraiser’s calendar competing with end-of-year marketing.
  • The “newness” factor of Giving Tuesday is over since it’s in its fourth year.

Three Fresh Ways to Reinvigorate Your #GivingTuesday and Avoid Fundraising Fatigue:

1. Begin or End a Large Fundraising Campaign on Giving Tuesday

Work #GivingTuesday into your already active fundraising calendar. Giving Tuesday is a great day to begin or end a large fundraising initiative that you are already working on. We have heard from many exhausted not-for-profits that adding another event (like Giving Tuesday) may truly max out their staff. By celebrating Giving Tuesday as a way to culminate a large fundraising campaign or kickoff a new campaign (such as your end-of-year appeal) you can mark the event by creating a challenge grant encouraging smaller donors to match a large gift or asking major donors to present their gift on #GivingTuesday. Your organization can benefit from the publicity surrounding Giving Tuesday, while not disrupting your development calendar.

2. Make Giving Tuesday a Day of Stewardship for Your Loyal Donors

If you can’t fathom asking your donors for more money in the midst of the end-of-year appeal or Thanksgiving, Christmas, or Hanukkah giving periods, make Giving Tuesday a day to focus on the stewardship of your loyal supporters by thanking them for their continued support. Thank you’s can come in the form of mailed cards, a recognition ceremony for top donors, or phone calls coinciding with Thanksgiving – a day devoted to giving thanks.

3. Make Your Day of Giving a Day that Resonates with Your Organization

Move your Giving Tuesday to February! Savvy not-for-profit organizations are creating their own “giving days” where the focus is only on their organization. Choose a date that is meaningful to your organization: the day your tuition dollars run out in your academic calendar (for higher education), your founder’s birthday (for foundations), or simply a day that works best within your organization’s development calendar. Creating your own giving day takes the pressure off of an already busy season and gives you control over how the day should be used.

Don’t be confused, we LOVE Giving Tuesday. Americans needed a day to rally and remind us that we need to give to organizations that do the most for our communities. We want you to use #GivingTuesday in the most effective way for your organization and hope that these suggestions lead to less stress and more giving.

Larissa Montecuollo is Partner and Creative Director at Trillion, a graphic design and web design studio with a focus on branding located in Summit, NJ. Larissa has worked at a handful of New York’s prestigious design and interactive firms, but Trillion is her permanent home because of her affinity for the subject matter: not-for-profits and restaurants. She earned a BFA with a double major in graphic design and information technology/informatics from Rutgers University and a masters in visual arts administration from New York University. Larissa can be contacted at 908.219.4703 or through

*source: "Giving Tuesday Shows Strong Growth in Both Donations and Volunteerism". Chronicle of Philanthropy.

The opinions expressed herein are the writer's alone, and do not reflect the opinions of or anyone who works for is not responsible for the accuracy of any of the information supplied by the writer. Click here to submit a Guest Column.

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